We ended up stopping in Salt Creek, thanks to the same surf shop I was talking about in one of my previous post. One guy told us it was his favourite spot in the area because of the clear water making you think that you are in a tropical location. And he wasn’t lying: clear blue water with a really green park on the hill spread above the beach. Yes, it’s not common since we entered California to see wide and not-burned areas of green and freshly cut grass. Only where we tend to sleep, in luxury residential areas (it feels safer), or in very expensive state parks.
We first enjoyed the view with a nice lunch on one of the tables. An improved and healthy meal for people living in a car: organic baby spinach and avocado topped with 2 fried eggs. And a juicy Californian Apple for dessert. Yes, it’s almost gastronomic food for American people. But honestly, stop stereotyping for a minute: people from the whole west coast are far from the fat couch potatoes reported by Super Size me! The number of vegan and gluten free people seems to be a lot more important than the burger-or-other-fast-food fans. As long as you stay away from the malls of course!
I then dropped Maeva off at the closest Starbucks to continue working on her personal project. Already 3 days in a row that she was focused. Quite a lot for a person who is convinced to have ADD! Well on my side, I was still 100% on surf mode! So I went back to Salt Creek, for a surf session this time!
The waves were small and nicely shaped at the south peak of the beach, so I got to practice my lefts! I’m still a beginner on this side because I always go the easy way when I have a choice. Well this time I didn’t, and good for me because I ended up at sunset with some good rides! And It was time to pick up Maeva.
We then both agreed we deserved a movie, based on our respective personal achievements. We still hadn’t gone to a real movie theatre since we crossed the border, and for movie addicts like us it’s a veeery long time. And unlike our first drive-in experience, we got to pick the movie, so we chose Gone Girl. Twelve dollars per person is quite cheap when you realize that the show is only for you and 1 other couple in a huge cineplex showroom. We wondered if it was because the movie was too scary for a 10pm showtime. But we figured it was probably just because it was a long movie. And indeed, we got out around 1am and were honestly creeped out to just park randomly somewhere and sleep in your car, right after seeing some insanely freaky characters! But you should see the movie, it’s really good. And not just because “it stars Ben Affleck”, ladies please.
This city is pretty much a gigantic hub of urban areas and industries. Just arriving on one of the 10 lanes of the highway and 2 minutes of traffic gives an idea of how busy LA is. We were lucky to join Mala at her house, after she kindly offered to host us during our stay here. We arrived at her very nice apartment (boy did it change from our home in the car!) and the three of us headed out for a visit of Santa Monica. Mala showed us the very hipster Abbott Kinney street with its spacious and beautifully designed shops and coffee places. Loved the vibe in this street, as well as the long hair, piercings and round glasses of the people walking around! We then headed to the beach for a stroll towards the Santa Monica Pier. On our way we got impressed by the guys making loops on the rings of the open air gym. Steph was game and proved that the paddling sessions from surfing were well worth it! It was crazy warm so we indulged in some frozen yogurt at Yogurtland – we had never tried this one and we were not disappointed! We were like kids in Disneyland trying all the different flavours and topping our yogurts with caramel, candy, almonds and strawberries!
Afterwards, it was time for a well deserved break back at the apartment before heading out again to join Mala’s super nice friends for tacos at a Mexican Restaurant and a movie at their place. We got some delicious tacos and though they got a few orders wrong (when I ask for “no cilantro” it also means don’t put the green sauce that has cilantro on my taco), it was excellent! Back at their place, we sipped some wine and enjoyed sour keys while watching the indie movie “Frank”. Love watching movies that are a little weird, unique and far-fetched and this was one of them! And with Michael Fassbender as Frank, well you simply can’t go wrong. We then enjoyed a night in the first REAL bed of the trip, it was quite something – thanks again Steve for letting us stay in your room you have no idea how happy it made us!
On the Sunday, we figured it would be better to leave touristy things for the week and we headed to Runyon Canyon for a very hot hike. The sun was so strong as we climbed above the Hollywood hills to find a panoramic view of LA at the top. We get it, it’s the equivalent of the gym for people here! They all come in Nike’s, mini shorts and ponytails to jog or walk to the top while calculating their speed and calories lost. Well, let’s just say around noon was probably the best time for that in this crazy heat. There really is only summer in California. We then took a drive on the iconic Mulholland Drive and opted out of a walk on the Walk of Fame of Hollywood since both of us had already been there. Instead, we headed to Venice Beach! Why? Because one cannot be in LA without checking out people dancing to hip hop on skates! Where else do you get to see that? We cruised around on our longboards and also stopped at the skatepark to watch some skills. Venice was fun for the music and the dancers, but in all honesty it was so crowded that we were happy to sneak out of the busyness to go back to the apartment. In the evening, Steve and his girlfriend came over for dinner. Steph, aka the Chef, cooked some absolutely delicious traditional French crepes for all of us, savoury and sweet – YUM.
The next day, we were ready for a day full of adventures at Universal Studios, the ONE thing that we HAD to do in LA. It was a crazy fun day as we ran from one ride to the other, catching shows in between. Our favourites?
– Ride: Transformers! By far the coolest, as it combines roller coaster, real setting and 3D – you really feel like you’re fighting robots in there. The Mummy was awesome sensations-wise but way too short. And well, we have to mention Jurassic Park – because it really freaked us (me) out. Hey, there was a tyrannosaur guys, okay?!
– The Sets: We obviously took the world famous studio tour in the open air bus to discover the world of movie sets. And we know why this is a must-do. We got to watch a water disaster, say hi to Jaws’s shark, be in an earthquake in the subway, encounter King Kong in the wilderness, drive through the incredible set from War of the Worlds and look at movie iconic cars.
– Shows: The visual effects show was fun to watch for insights on the how-to secrets of some scenes, with a touch of humour. But we finished our day with the Waterworld performance, which basically replays a scene of the movie. Backflips, jet ski freestyle, fights, jumps, fire… Mindblowing! Steph now wants to change jobs and play one of the guys in that show for a living.
– And: back in Santa Cruz, I asked Steph to win a Minion for me and he didn’t succeed; so obviously I put him to the challenge again! He had to shoot basketballs in a net and if he scored twice, he could pick a Minion. Aaaaand….. HE WON!!! Needless to say, I was a little kid with my new toy! We are now road tripping with a minion.
As you might be able to tell, we spent the entire day in Universal Studios. So right after, as we hadn’t eaten anything, we rushed to Taco Bell – typical.
In the evening, it was our last night with Mala and she had a friend over. So Steph put together another delicious meal of pasta, cream and shallots. YUM.
It was time to continue going further South and say goodbye to Mala. Thanks again Mala for your hospitality, we are so grateful!
We first headed to Beverly Hills because I wanted to see some crazy huge houses. Well that was a stupid idea, they all had immense fences, we only managed to spot a few from afar and the intriguing spots had way too much security. No, we didn’t see Jennifer Lawrence. *Sigh*. To make up for it, we had coffee at a lovely TOMS shop/coffeeplace in Abbott Kinney to enjoy their super chill outdoor patio. And we figured we could leave LA on that mocha coffee note and return to the beach life down the coast.
We finally made our way to sunny Santa Barbara. Sunny may be an understatement, it honestly felt as if we had stepped right back into the heat of August days. We stayed in this small beach town for a couple of days, just enough to combine some surf sessions close to Isla Vista Point, chilling and longboarding along the beach. Steph has been working hard at perfecting those barrels as you can see!
Also, Steph has been teaching me some longboard moves in order for me to stay more or less stable, and there has been some improvement! You will see the proof below. It does help that the board I got is totally beautiful with its wooden material and totally badass with a shark at the back! As the guys from the skate shop said, “If that’s the one you like, then that’s the one you should get.”
Although we missed Livia in town, she gave us tons of tips for places to sleep and cool hikes to go for. We followed her advice and slept in our van at the Rose Gardens at the Mission every night – perfect spot! We also went for a hike to Saddle Rock, but probably didn’t pick the right time. It was the middle of the afternoon and burning hot. The view was absolutely worth it though! We almost ran down the trail to jump into the car and rush to the ocean. It was our first swim without our wetsuits and it never felt more like summer! And of course, when we reached the sea, two dolphins were casually passing by a few meters away from the shore.
Now, if you like dolphins, I would suggest moving to SB. I mean yes, we saw some in Santa Cruz, but the Santa Barbara dolphins are way more fun. Why you ask? Well because they’re freestylers! They’ll come and tease the surfers by jumping around and offering an amazing little show. Steph will be practising his left turn and two dolphins will throw a backflip in the background, no big deal. Oh you want proof? Look below my friends. I’m SO thrilled that early one morning I got to capture Steph on his board and a dolphin jumping a few meters away. It was hard to coordinate both models.
Other than that, we visited the cute little downtown with its beautifully designed courthouse and the main street, State Street. Following Peter’s advice, we also treated ourselves to some tacos and guacamole at La Super Rica Taqueria, a cute turquoise Mexican restaurant – definitely worth stopping by!
Thanks again for the great SB tips Livia!!
PS: I should also point out that Steph developed a new addiction during the couple of days spent in SB: the Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino. It was just so warm that we had to share a Venti one every afternoon you know! First it was the Oreo Blizzard at DQ, now it’s the Mocha Frappuccino at Starbucks.. what will be next?